Nerve problems put Rogers’ Galaxy career on hold

Colorado Rapids midfielder Jermaine Jones, rear, received a yellow card after taking down Galaxy forward Robbie Rogers during the second half in the first leg of an MLS semifinal in October 2016.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers said he considered retiring this winter after complications from a December operation left him without feeling in his left foot, a condition that continues to keep him off the field.

“I definitely thought about it,” he said. “I thought, ‘What does this mean to my foot and having another surgery?’ But at the end, I just kind of overreacted. I was just kind of freaking out after another surgery.”

Rogers, 29, said he has undergone eight operations in his soccer career, including three in the last 16 months. But after the most recent procedure, Rogers had a bad reaction to an injection that left him with nerve problems in his foot.


Because of that, Rogers, one of the top right backs in MLS, hasn’t been able to participate in preseason training with the Galaxy and has already been ruled out of the team’s March 4 season opener.

And he may not be the only starter to miss that game.

Forward Gyasi Zardes, 25, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee after being injured while training with the U.S. national team last month and won’t resume training until at least next week. Zardes hasn’t played in an MLS game since suffering a broken bone in his right foot in August.

Also uncertain is French winger Romain Alessandrini, the Galaxy’s major offseason addition. Alessandrini, 27, who went back to France to complete immigration paperwork after signing with the Galaxy last month, was scheduled to be back in Southern California on Saturday, giving him less than two weeks to prepare for the first game.

Alessandrini, like Rogers and Zardes, hasn’t participated in a training session with the Galaxy although he is expected to practice Monday and could play in the team’s Tuesday scrimmage with Real Salt Lake. Alessandrini’s last start for Marseille, his former French club, came in early November, although he made two appearances off the bench in games last month.

But while the Galaxy say they are optimistic Zardes and Alessandrini will miss little, if any, playing time, Rogers said there is no timetable for his return. And that’s worrisome for a team with little depth.

“We’ll see how it goes. It’s out of my control,” said Rogers, who is lifting weights and has begun light running on a treadmill while being treated by a neurologist. “I’m worried about having feeling in my foot for the rest of my life.”


In the Galaxy’s first two preseason exhibitions, Coach Curt Onalfo started Rafael Garcia, a midfielder, in Rogers’ spot. Behind him, the Galaxy’s 23-man roster includes just one back-up defender who has appeared in an MLS game. The team traded veteran A.J. DeLaGarza, last year’s chief back-up, to the Houston Dynamo in January, three weeks after Rogers’ surgery.

“Everyone was expecting me to be back a few weeks ago, to be playing,” Rogers said. “It’s been more just this nerve stuff that hasn’t healed. Usually you have surgery and your nerve will come back in a week, two weeks, three weeks.

“This is like a freak thing where my nerve hasn’t gotten better.”

Rogers, who became the first openly gay male athlete to play in a major U.S. professional sports league when he made his Galaxy debut in 2013, spoke Thursday at the Staples Center, where he took part in the ceremonial puck drop before the Kings’ Pride Night game with the Arizona Coyotes.

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